Perfect Poolside Pillows - Embroidery, Fish & Chevrons, Oh My!

4 years ago

Fish pool 1c

I've been working on this fish pillow for the past several weeks and it's finally done! 

Chevron fish 1

I used a Riley Blake aqua chevron fabric for the front and a plain aqua fabric for the back. I selected a few blues and greens for the fish.

Chevron fish 2

 For a 20x20" pillow you will need:

-One square of chevron fabric cut to 21 x 21".
-Two rectangles of fabric for the envelope-style back, cut to 21 x 16" each.
-Fabric scraps in blues and greens for the fish
-DMC embroidery floss #s 311, 500, 502, 581, 597, 598, 971
-Download and print this pdf
-Sewing machine with thread to topstitch the fish; I used a dark green
-Piping; I used a 9/32" cord and a blue-green fabric cut to 2 1/4 x 84" (two strips pieced together) 

Chevron fish 3

Step 1: After washing and ironing all fabric, cut the front square of the chevron fabric to 21 x 21". Cut both pieces of the back, 21 x 16" each. Set aside.

Step 2: Cut squares of scrap fabric for fish heads and bodies. Cut rectangles for the backs (I used light blue for all the backs). Decide which pieces will be fish heads and which will be the bodies. I created 14 fish total (my lucky number!).

Chevron fish 4

Step 3: With 1/8" seam, sew the pieces together as shown. Press toward the darker fabric.

Chevron fish 5

Step 4: Trace the fish onto the rectangular back pieces. Be sure to draw the line in the middle of the fish.

Chevron fish 6

Step 5: Place the blue rectangle on top of the pieced front piece, making sure to line the seam up with the line you drew in the middle of the fish. Sew directly on the permieter of the fish, leaving a small opening on the bottom to turn and press. It's helpful to leave the opening on the fish body, between the head and tail.

Step 6: Cut out the fish, clip corners. Turn and press. 

Chevron fish 9

Step 7: Arrange the fish on the top fabric as you like! I made small groups of big and small fish, and added a few going the other direction. To reverse the fish, trace the pattern backwards onto the back fabric. Pin all fish in place.

Chevron fish 11

Step 8: Topstitch all fish into place, staying as close to the edge as possible without running off the fish. Mine got better after I'd done a few.

Three fish

Step 9: Once all the fish are topstitched in place, get out the embroidery hoop! I did all the embroidery freehand without drawing on the fabric. Big fish got three rows of scales and small fish got two rows. Then I added tiny orange bubbles.


Step 10: Prepare the back. Fold one of the back pieces (the 21" side) over 1/2" and press. Turn over again 1 1/4" and press again. Pin and sew. Repeat for other side. Line the back pieces up on top of the front piece to make a square. Lightly pin the back pieces together and sew the overlap with a 1/8" seam allowance. 

Step 11: Right sides facing, place the front and back together. Add the piping in between, all edges together and pin all four sides. It's helpful to clip the corners of the piping to be able to turn corners neatly. With the piping foot on the machine, sew around the entire square. I am no expert on piping! I do find that it's helpful to flip the piece over and sew the square again from the other side. It creates a tighter fit and a double seam is stronger. To make a flange instead of using piping, see my tutorial here

Fish pillow top

Step 12: Trim any excess fabric, turn the pillow through the envelope-style back and press. Insert your pillow; you're all done!

Four fish

I had a lot of fun with this one. It was great to see the little fish faces emerge. I'm thinking about what other projects could use some fish. :)

Hopefully you had a great weekend. Can you believe July is almost over??!

xo Karin


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